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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Dallas Cowboys defense is struggling

By Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys defense is terrible.

This has nothing to do with Monte Kififn and his Tampa 2 scheme, though it is suspect at the moment.

Peyton Manning was fabulous for the Denver Broncos on Sunday. He threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns in the dramatic 51-48 victory.

Knowshon Moreno
Knowshon Moreno averaged almost five yards per carry as the Broncos rushed for 103 yards against the Cowboys.
He completed passes to six different players and the run game averaged 3.3 yards per carry with Knowshon Moreno rushing for 93 yards on 19 carries.

But over the last two weeks, the Cowboys’ defense has given up 1,028 yards in losses.

The Cowboys have to play better than this.

“They scored 48 points,” linebacker Sean Lee said of the Cowboys’ offense. “The fact that we weren’t able to win when the offense scored 48 points is absolutely acceptable. We have to find a way to be a better defense. Right now, we’re not a good defense. Right now, we’re not a good defense. Two weeks in a row, we’ve given up way too many points and way too many yards. Until we get better, we’re not going to win ballgame. That’s purely on us.”

The Cowboys are not getting to the quarterback and Manning, though he gets rid of the ball quicker than most quarterbacks in the league, is hard to bring down.

But there’s a reason why DeMarcus Ware is considered the heart and soul of this defense. Yes, he will get doubled. Yes, he’s playing with a balky back and a neck that could go numb at
any moment. Yes, he had cramps and needed an IV to get through the Denver game. But Ware has to pressure the pocket more than once, which is what he did on Sunday.

“[Manning] diagnoses what the defense is doing and gets the ball out of his hand against man, against zone and really does a good job not allowing those negative plays to happen,” coach Jason Garrett said. “What you tell your defensive linemen is ‘keep going, keep banging. When you do get an opportunity, try to make a play.’ I do think he affect him a couple of times on some of those third down situations where we did get stops and those were important plays for us.”

Cornerback Brandon Carr, who was targeted late in the second half, signed a five-year $50.1 million deal as someone the franchise is hoping will knock passes down and make interceptions. Offenses shy away from Carr at times and pick on Morris Claiborne. In the second half, Manning targeted Carr and he had zero pass breakups.

Claiborne, whom the Cowboys traded two draft picks for to select No. 6 overall last summer, has one interception in his career. He picked it up on an under thrown pass from Manning. He also recovered a fumble during the Cowboys rush to a 14-0 lead on Sunday.

“No matter what, all the plays we made, all the good things we did, we didn’t come out on top,” Claiborne said. “It was a good play, but we didn’t get the victory so it doesn’t mean anything.”

The Cowboys played more nickel defense to combat the three-and-four receiver sets by Manning, but still lost the race.

Bruce Carter was benched for Ernie Sims on the nickle and in the base 4-3 package. When Sims was not playing up to par, Carter was inserted.

Both did not make enough plays.

In some ways the Cowboys are missing defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. He’s out another week, on the PUP, recovering from sports hernia surgery. The Cowboys need Ratliff to push the pocket and become a disruptive force in the run game.

Overall, the Cowboys defense is in need of a Yasiel Puig-like burst to their season right now.

“I just know we needed to make more plays,” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said.

It’s easy to blame the loss on quarterback Tony Romo, whose fourth-quarter interception set up the winning field goal, but it would be nice if the defense made a stop when it counted. In a game like Sundays where it resembled more like Madden 25, the defense needed to make one play. Just one.

“There is no such thing as a good loss,” Carr said. “A loss is a loss. It’s about wins and losses. We just weren’t able to get the job done. It’s one of those things. Back to the drawing board; break down these things on film. It’s a 24-hour rule with this game. Get it out of your system and learn from it.”